Monday, October 25, 2010

Study on Women Donors Presents Lessons for Board Recruitment

A study released this week by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy showed that women are the largest donors. They give more in actual dollars and they give more frequently than men. This is a reality that holds true regardless of the women’s own economic status; and, the disparity of giving increases with the individuals’ income. For instance, 35.2 percent of women who earn $23,509 or less annually make charitable contributions, opposed to 27.5 percent of men who earn at that same level. When income rises to at least $103,000, 96 percent of women give to charity, while only 75 percent of men of similar means give. The results, culled from a sample of 8,000 American households, also revealed that women typically give because they care about the work that is being done. Men tend to give because they are asked.

This study is already shaking up many who have traditionally turned to powerful men in the community for large financial commitments. However, it should also shake up those who are recruiting for boards of directors. According to the Urban Institute study, “Nonprofit Governance in the United States: Findings on performance and accountability from the first national representative study” by Francie Ostrower, while women make up almost half of all boards in the US (46 percent), they tend to be found on the boards of smaller organizations – typically organizations with budgets under $100,000. The percentage of women serving on the largest (budgets of $40 million plus), most prestigious boards is only 29 percent.

One reason for the above may be that, according to Ostrower’s findings, women often do not make the cut when organizations use financial skills and reputation in the community (“affluence and influence”) as recruiting criteria. If board members are expected to be among the biggest and most committed givers, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s study should cause us to question whether organizations are shooting themselves in the foot when they actively solicit more men than women.

Perhaps of even more import is the difference the study found in why people give. Will Brown’s work shows that belief in the mission is the most important factor related to board performance. Conversely, Candace Widmer, in a now classic study, found that joining a board because a friend asks is a temporary incentive and provides neither ongoing rewards nor participation. So, unless the organization is quickly able to provide these board members with other, more meaningful incentives, they will not stay involved. Does it not make more sense, therefore, to recruit those who are already motivated by what the organization is doing? We now know empirically, this means recruiting more women with a demonstrated interest in our organization’s mission.

Using Good Peer Pressure

The Secret to Turning Consumers Green, a Wall Street Journal article last Monday, discussed effective methods to encourage consumer green behavior. Which hotel placard did researchers find to be the most successful to get guests to reuse their towels? The one with the most peer pressure. “Join your fellow guests in helping save the environment.” Customizing the wording created greater towel reuse, “80 percent of the guest who stayed here in Room 231 reused their towels.” Peer pressure, it turns out is the magic that entices green behavior.

Since this is the case with green behavior, can you also apply peer pressure to encourage support to your organizations? Anyone using placards in your conference room that state that the last five people who sat in the seat gave $1,000 to help bring children art? Are you using a monthly “peer pressure” chart that lets board member know how their giving stacks up compared to their fellow board members? Are you encouraging giving with your season ticket holders or members with peer pressure? On the reply card, do you state the percent of your season ticket holders that make additional donations of at least $10? How do you use good peer pressure to increase your income or other support to your organization? How might you?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Are Your Income Expectations Realistic?

Do you expectations match reality? Use this checklist to test them.

Are your income expectations realistic? Yes, if you . . .

1. Base them on experience. You earned a similar amount in the past.

2. Establish them around industry standards. That is, someone in your sector regularly achieves this outcome with the same kind of inputs you plan. Your organization will struggle to make the funds it needs if it invests 5 percent of its budget to obtain foundation funding vs. the national standard of around 18 percent.

3. Support them with a solid strategy. Expenses less other income does not equal the amount of individuals’ donations you will raise. You can have all the pieces to make a ship model in a bottle, but without the instruction sheet, the strategy that gets you from here to there --the model will gather dust. For income, how exactly will you increase individual donations by 5 percent next year? What will you do today to work toward that goal?

4. Have access to the required resources. You can’t make spaghetti if you lack pasta and tomatoes. Do you have what you need to do the job? For your planned giving effort, do you have donors who have been giving consistently for seven years?

5. Own or invest to gain the necessary skills. You can have a bathing suit, plenty of grease and be at the shore, but this doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful swimming the English Channel. Do people in your organization feel comfortable asking for money?

6. Commit. You, your board and members may understand surviving requires different actions, but if all of you continue to embrace change halfheartedly, over time your expectations will become unrealistic.

7. Flex, as needed, in response to changing conditions. Groups who had the base, industry knowledge, skills, strategies, resources and commitment for a winning capital campaign, faced new challenges in the face of the Great Recession.

The more of these criteria you can say yes to the more realistic are your income expectations. For more about setting realistic expectations see Setting Realistic Expectations About Income. This article is the lead article in this month’s Added Value Newsletter, subscribe today.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thinking of Entering a New Market?

Here are five key questions to ask and thoughtfully answer as you plan this step:

1. Who are you?

2. What services will you offer?

3. Why are you needed?

4. What value will you provide?

5. How will you relate to other efforts?

Your customers, potential donors and supporters will ask these questions, even if they use other words. Use your answers to structure your planning efforts.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Low Cost Employee Reward: Add Meaning

At Friday’s planned giving luncheon, I asked Fran Levinson, Vice President at the Sarasota Boys and Girls Club, to identify the best part of her job. “The time I get to spend with the kids,” she replied without hesitation. Fran works in the Club’s administration offices, so she relishes the chance to provide club tours which gives her an opportunity to interact with hundreds of youth.
In August in this blog, I shared the availability a podcast Laura Mikuska and I created about low-cost employee rewards. The podcast shares a dozen or so ideas. To the list of rewards let’s add, “Helping employees to identify what provides meaning for them and incorporate it into their routine.” For many, like Fran, creating meaning will be a chance to see the impact of their work first hand. For some this will mean mixing with the youth you serve. For others, it will be talking with customers after a performance. For some, it might be a chance to deliver meals for a week once a year. Your organization has many meaningful “touch points.”
The list of low cost employee rewards need to continue to expand. What ideas do you have? What works in your shop?

Focus on Mission to Achieve Results

Last week Kathy Kingston, Fundraising Auction Consultant and Professional Auctioneer, provided us with an overview on auctions and revenue streams for non profits. The most important thing to remember, she stressed, was to focus on your branding, mission and message at all times. In her experience, non profits that are good at this are great at raising funds.

She explained that most non profits who hold events and charity auctions focus their energies on promoting the event itself, rather than the reason behind the event, which is, of course, to support the non profit's mission. While it's fun to attend a party, you need to pull at your attendees heartstrings by focusing all your remarks, stories and materials on your mission. She reminded us that events are just another vehicle to enhance your messaging, just like your newsletter or website.

Focus your energies on your mission at all times - you will achieve better results in the long run.

Laura Mikuska
Fund development & event specialists
Mikuska Group